15 Feb 2011
Creativity as Adapation
What makes a creative person like Kafka, Einstein or Mozart? Anyone can be creative. Tortured souls are said to be especially creative. Franz Kafka for example is a perfect example.
Why? Tortured souls certainly need a solution for their problem, for example to find peace in life, a solution for their troubles or a meaning for their existence. They just want to be happy, like everyone else. Well, creativity can be a way out of desolate situations. It is a pleasant process itself, intrinsically rewarding, and it even can give your life a whole new meaning.
Creativity blossoms if there is a deep need to be creative, when there is a real problem and easy solutions for the problem are not available. Of course there is no solution if there is no problem, so there is no creativity where there is no problem, no challenge and no obstacle (maybe one reason for the “dumb-blonde” stereotype). Problems and obstacles can cause creativity. We become creative by solving problems if there are obstacles in our way, and serious problems to solve. John Dewey (1859-1952) said “We only think when we are confronted with problems.”
In this sense, creativity can be seen as adaptation to a crisis and unpleasant, hard times and hardship in general. A problem requires a creative solution to solve it, an obstacle requires a creative idea to find a way around it, and a crisis in general requires creativity and hard work to get over it. Every crisis is also a chance. John F. Kennedy observed that “when written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters – one represents danger, and the other represents opportunity” (although this may be a misperception, since the second character in the Chinese word for “crisis” does not necessarily mean opportunity).
Kafka was permanent in a personal crisis, and got a frustating job in a worker’s accident insurance company. Einstein got a frustrating position at the Swiss Patent Office after graduation. Both jobs were done only to pay the bills. And both of them did their groundbreaking creative work during times of greatest frustration. Some of Mozart’s string quartets and symphonies are good examples of masterpieces are born in a crisis as well.